OLLI OLLI - Exceptional People Supplemental Materials

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I have a brief webography of very solid sites concerned with the paranormal in a more scientific manner here. In the area of personal afterlife stories and out-of-body experiences or mediumship in its many forms, the Afterlife Report of Victor and Wendy Zammit is surely the greatest. Here is a link to the portal for that report, Afterlife Evidence. You can sign up for their weekly compilation of stories here. Their archives of monthly reports going back to at least 2004 is also available at that site.

1 Amira Willighagen

  1. Lyrics and history of the aria. Link.
  2. Maria Callas sings the same. Link. (1965. This is the real deal.)
  3. 10 yr-old Jackie Evancho sings the same on America’s Got Talent, August 10, 2010. Link (Should start about 1.38 with the aria). Amira sang in Holland in October 2013.
  4. 11 yr-old Arielle Baril sings the same on America’s Got Talent June 23, 2015. Link.
  5. Amira two years later in Malta. (Just turning 11. They sing Happy Birthday to her. I think she has more vibrato and she has certainly added some tearfulness.)
  1. Kyle Eschen, best teenage magician of (I think) 2012 performs brilliantly before a very large audience. He’s 15 (must be going on 16) at the time. Interesting to ponder whether his wonderful skills rise to the level of Amira’s or Jackie’s or Arielle’s.
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxuhISNpZFk
  3. As Tina Leydon (of our [then] class) mentioned on February 8th, NBC is coming out soon (8 pm, Sunday, March 13, 2016) with a show specialized in remarkable young talent.

Hosted by [Steve] Harvey, the hour long series features “young talent, from musicians, singers and dancers to a 4-year-old basketball phenom, a 5-year-old reincarnation of Bruce Lee and every form of wunderkind from around the globe.” Link. Thanks, Tina.

1.01, 02, 03 Debbie Wald Poem

See here for the poem on a web page.

http://www.explorejournal.com/article/S1550-8307%2812%2900084-5/abstract (Full text here also.)

Explore that article (The Journal of Science and Healing July–August, 2012Volume 8, Issue 4, Pages 213–217 Savants: What They Can Teach Us by Larry Dossey, MD.) to get the necessary context to appreciate the poem (also by a nine-year old) and discover another astonishing verbal case.

2 Superior Autobiographical Memory

  1. Memory man: Aurelien Hayman's hyperthymesia explained This is more recent (2012) than the 60 Minutes piece and gives us the new technical term for the condition. Aurelien is only 20 in the video and his exceptional memory is confined to personal events in his life, including the weather, and the day of the week. We also learn that back in California they are now up to 11 hyperthymesiasts. Also that while there is different “wiring” in his brain, we still don’t know how or why it works.
  2. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-gift-of-endless-memory/ (The 60 Minutes videos plus a transcript.)

3 Foreign Accent Syndrome

  1. This brief article at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC makes it sound like Foreign Accent Syndrome is easily explained and largely understood as a consequence of stroke. (And some other causes.) They do say it is rare.
  2. Big-time FAS: (April 12, 2010)

Croatian doctors are baffled after a teenage girl who fell into a mysterious coma woke up speaking fluent German.

The parents of the 13-year-old from the southern town of Knin said their daughter had only just started studying German at school and had been trying to read German books and watch German television — but had never been that good in German.

But since waking up the teenager has been unable to speak Croatian and even refused it, but communicates only in perfect German far superior to her mastery of the language she had when she was taken ill.

Although Wikipedia discounts this story as unsubstantiated, the above newspaper report (link) goes on to state that numerous doctors have examined her, including German-speaking ones, of course. The girl understands her parents in Croatian, but responds in German. Said to be perfect German, but who cares if it’s a bit off?

3.  And now another in the US, near Atlanta. (October 21, 2016)

A Georgia teen who nearly died after suffering a concussion during a soccer game awoke from a coma speaking only in Spanish, his parents told WSB Radio.

“I was in shock and panic,” Nsemoh’s coach, Bruno Kalonji, told WSB-TV. Kalonji said Nsemoh stopped breathing several times after the blow. “He will start coming back, then he will throw up. It was a sequence of things I’ve never seen, it was bad.”

By the time the ambulance arrived, Nsemoh appeared to be having seizures. He ended up going into a coma for three days.

When he woke up, Nsemoh could no longer speak in English, but was able to speak in Spanish fluently, something he had never done before, his parents said. As the days progressed, his English words slowly returned and his Spanish became less fluent.

Nsemoh believes he may have subconsciously remembered the conversations his friends and brother, who speaks fluently, had while he was with them. (Link to source.)

5 Musical Savants Derek Paravicini, Tony Cicoria and Derek Amato

  1. Oliver Sacks (the core subject of the NOVA piece that I have edited to only show Tony) was possibly as fascinating a character as those two. He died at 82 on August 30, 2015. I enjoyed the Wikipedia article on him. I cannot vouch for its accuracy or objectivity. Here is a link to a New Yorker article he published in 2012 (Altered States) in which he describes his own early 30’s drug use in California. This features extensive hallucinations that make it quite understandable that he (apparently) views Tony Cicoria’s visions as purely products of brain physiology. His existential stoicism appears clearly in the op-ed piece he wrote for the New York Times, published in February of 2015.
  2. Veridical NDEs and other issues. A good site for this is IANDS, the International Association for Near-Death Studies. Here is their quick overview of famous veridical cases: link. And here is a page giving a large number of links to pages on their site where the word “veridical” is found.
  3. The Pim van Lommel study. A study at several Dutch hospitals of all cardiac arrest patients prospectively – that is, as they came along, consecutively, omitting no one. Those who survived were interviewed according to a standardized protocol and there were also follow-up interviews. In the follow-up, the group with NDEs were compared to the group without NDEs to control for possible contributing factors. The study itself may be read here. A layman’s language explication is here.
  4. Anita Moorjani’s famous story is one of my favorites. There are many YouTube interviews and speeches for Anita. A good one is here, but she’s always delightful. I found her book on the topic very persuasive. Dying To Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing.

5. Akiane Kramarik. (Ak-ee-anna) Daughter of atheists, home schooled, no TV, and no babysitters and no neighbors to play with. Then visions and visitors without benefit of lightning or bumps on the head:

Akiane says that she first met God when she was three, and that her art is inspired by visions that God provides in her dreams. “He said, ‘You have to do this, and I’ll help you.’ I said, ‘Yes, I will.’ But I said it in different words in my mind. I speak through my mind to Him.” Akiane started drawing at age four, working in pastels at age five, painting when she was six, and writing poetry at seven.

This now young woman is almost frighteningly talented. Here is a good source, with both her history and several videos. Link. Her interview (on that page) with the Seattle PBS station at age 15 brings out a good deal of her relationship with visions. (Here.) Her own page gives a range of drawings and paintings from age four to 18. Often with poems. Link.

6. A news story on Derek Amato: http://rapidcityjournal.com/lifestyles/accident-leads-to-a-musical-mind/article_cbef268c-b7a8-11df-b2b2-001cc4c03286.html

     Another one: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2155919/Derek-Amato-Concussion-turns-Colorado-man-musical-genius-aged-40.html

7. NPR’s skeptical Shankar Vedantam interviews Derek. Asks him to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. He tries, but he can’t. Nice additional details of his first experience:


6 Musical Savants with Autism or Brain Damage

Atlantic Monthly for January 2016


Despite its title (“The Mysterious Link between Autism and Extraordinary Abilities”) this article is about scientific studies of a variety of savants, and not about mystery.

7 Numbers as shapes and other savant types.

1. Jake: Math prodigy proud of his autism. 60 Minutes, Morley Safer. (Jake became severely autistic at two. 1 in 50 children born today in the US become autistic. It was 1 in 10,000 when my kids were born. In the video we learn that 10% of today’s autistic children (and now many are adults) have some prodigious skill.)

2. Stephen Wiltshire. Flies over Rome once (he’s never seen it before) and starts drawing. Gets the number of windows and columns right. Small streets. Proportions.

Stephen Wiltshire was diagnosed with autism as a child. His photographic memory is put to the test after he is taken on a helicopter ride over Rome. With only his memory to rely on, his five yards of artwork stuns onlookers with its precision. Link.

This time it’s Manhattan: Link.

3. Alex Santoso collects what he calls the 10 Most Fascinating Savants in the World. Thank you Alex! Check out his number 2, Leslie Lemke:

Leslie Lemke didn't have a great start in life. He was born with severe birth defects that required doctors to remove his eyes. His own mother gave him up for adoption, and a nurse named May Lemke (who at the time was 52 and was raising 5 children of her own) adopted him when he was six months old.

     As a young child, Leslie had to be force-fed to teach him how to swallow. He could not stand until he was 12. At 15, Leslie finally learned how to walk (May had to strap his fragile body to hers to teach him, step by step, how to walk).

     At 16 years of age, Leslie Lemke bloomed. In the middle of one night, May woke up to find Leslie playing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. Leslie, who has no classical music training, was playing the piece flawlessly after hearing it just once earlier on the television.

This wonderful story became well-known after Walter Cronkite told it on the CBS Evening News in December 1980:

He introduced the segment with, “This is a season that celebrates a miracle, and this story belongs to the season. It’s the story of a young man, a piano, and a miracle.” Other programs, including Donahue, That’s Incredible, and Oprah hosted May and Leslie. The 60 Minutes program aired in October of 1983. Morley Safer considers it one of his favorite 10 stories, and Leslie was part of the 25th Anniversary edition of that show in 1993. [Quoted from this story by Darold Treffert, MD (a leading autism expert) for the Wisconsin Medical Society.]

     Notice that Leslie had learned to play the piano and sing as he grew up listening to his mother May sing, but there was no classical music in his life until that memorable evening when the family watched a television movie that used Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto as its theme song. The movie Rain Man came after all this.

     A wonderful video has been recorded by Dr. Treffert of Leslie playing for his mother May when she is in her early 80’s suffering from Alzheimer’s. From staring at her hands she suddenly erupts into joyful singing along with him. The video appears with a date of 2011 associated with it for some reason, perhaps the year it was posted to Vimeo, but the actual date is between 1980, when May was diagnosed, and 1993 when she dies.

4, An autistic girl who seems hopeless and very, very difficult is shown a computer and suddenly starts talking with it. At about 13. There is much video from her early childhood. It’s hard to watch. Troublesome. This is the head-beating-on-the-floor autism. But then it turns out she’s been human and intelligent all this time. Rather stunning. Link.

8 Dogs who connect with their owners in paranormal ways.

1. There is a significant public debate or dialog (between Rupert Sheldrake and Scientific American skeptic columnist Michael Shermer) on the Sheldrake materials generally and the Jaytee telepathy topic specifically that is published online at Best Schools here. I have extracted the Jaytee part and arranged it in an accessible manner here.

Understanding that debate really requires that one read the papers involved and also check out subsequent arguments. Here is some of that:

  1. Original paper by Sheldrake and Smart. Here.
  2. The paper Wiseman et al. published in British Journal of Psychology that Sheldrake criticizes and Wiseman et al. respond to in (4) below is here.
  3. Sheldrake’s criticism of that paper. Here.
  4. The Wiseman, Smith and Milton response to Sheldrake’s criticism of their original paper. This is the only source offered by Shermer in refutation of Sheldrake in their debate on Best Schools. Link.
  5. Sheldrake’s response to (4) above is here.

2. Dog ‘walks 200 miles to find woman who nursed her back to health after hit-and-run accident’: link.

9 N’Kisi the mind-reading African Gray

1. The Sheldrake-Morgana paper with background info is here.

2. Public skeptics often attack Sheldrake’s work. A good number of those attacks, including one on the N’Kisi paper are listed with links to both the attacks and Sheldrake’s responses on this page at Sheldrake’s internet site.

I do not have time to read the criticism and respond to it myself. I would be interested in discussing the possibility of a class with anyone wanting to co-facilitate it, on the topic of skeptical attacks on paranormal claims and their defenses. One instance of working out those details is listed above (8.1) in regard to the Scientific American skeptical columnist Michael Shermer. Studying these attacks takes time and care.

10 The Animal Communicator Anna Breytenbach

1. I have not pursued any skeptical attacks on the work of Breytenbach or on the film itself, by Swati Thiyagarajan (who narrates and appears in the film) and Craig Foster.

2. Oddly, I do not find the film for sale on Amazon. Thiyagarajan blogs for an Indian site, NDTV, here. Hastings in Prescott does not carry or have access to the film. Neither is it available at Amazon.uk. And I read in Swati’s CV that she is hoping to find funds to make a follow-up version of the film. HERE IT IS on a South African site that will ship internationally, for R150, which is under US$10, but plus shipping: link. Be sure to read the description there regarding Region 2 DVDs.

3. Energy Healing a Wolf in Idaho: https://youtu.be/4GC1Sw__ooE. (I currently have this in the syllabus as well. June 8, 2016.)

14 Something Unknown Is Doing We Don’t Know What

1. Visit the documentary’s website for much supplemental info: http://www.somethingunknown.com/. From there you can stream the video or purchase it in several ways.

2. The quote is from Sir Arthur Eddington: Wikipedia. Scheltema finds it on timbers in the ceiling of Dr. Larry Dossey whom she visits later in the film as a kind of overview wrap up.

3. Scheltema has written a book with the same title. It contains much more material, including from authorities she does not use in the film.

4. An excellent overview of the psi field is the book The ESP Enigma by Diane Hennacy Powell. The book really does make “The Scientific Case for Psychic Phenomena” (its subtitle). Dr. Hennacy has way more good scientific credentials than you can shake five or six sticks at. She deals specifically with the SRI remote viewing experiments and all the people you hear mentioned in the Scheltema documentary. In addition she has a personal research interest in autistic savants and so her book covers that part of our course as well. Her internet page The Telepathy Project contains several interesting video pieces as well as a clear review of her consciousness-based project.

15  Joe McMoneagle and Remote Viewing

1. I enjoyed listening to Joe McMoneagle interviewed on Skeptiko by Alex Tsakiris: Psychic Spy Joe McMoneagle Tells How His Near-Death Experience Led to Remote Viewing.

2. Here is a summary of remote viewing methodologies used by several different RV providers at the present. This comes from the International Remote Viewing Association.

20 James Leininger, reincarnation of pilot James Huston, Jr.

1. The Institute for the Integration of Science, Intuition and Spirit (IISIS) has a long and detailed page on James Leininger here.

2. His parents, Bruce and Andrea, have written a book on their son, Soul Survivor.

3. The academic experts on reincarnation are psychiatrists Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker. This page from Amazon – link – lists Stevenson’s books as well as Jim Tucker’s Life Before Life. Stevenson (now deceased) and Tucker were/are at the University of Virginia.

21 The Afterlife Investigations

1. A book treatment of the Scole Experiment (The Scole Experiment by Grant and Jane Soloman) is found here (Kindle ed.) On that page you can read that the experiments are now continuing elsewhere and will be reported on in the Norfolk Experiment: Beyond the Scole Experiment.

2. There is a book by Gary E. Schwartz called The Afterlife Experiments which I have read and find to be excellent on Schwartz’s own investigations into the afterlife using mediums. Schwartz appears in Something Unknown Is Doing We Don’t Know What as well as in a background cameo behind medium Allison DuBois near the end of The Afterlife Investigations. He is a professor at UA in Tucson. See his interesting anecdote here.

3. Julie Beischel (who appears with Schwartz behind DuBois in the same cameo appearance) has gone on to found the Windbridge Institute in Tucson. Here, in an interview with Alex Tsakiris, she explains how her extraordinary experiments with multiple-blinded procedures have been conducted with mediums.